Xander vol.1 Transmutation, Page 8Jaz Johnson
“Avani?” Nora’s head tilted to the side.
“Hm,” Xander hummed with a nod. “Mistress of Earth, daughter of Mother Nature.”
“Daughter?” Nora scoffed softly. “Of Mother Nature.”
“Yes … Why do you laugh?”
“Well … Because she isn’t a person. She’s a phrase. It’s a phrase. Mother Nature.”
“Maybe here – to you,” Xander argued. “But on Athena, she is very much real. She is one of the three supreme beings.”
“Supreme being?” Nora questioned.
Xander paused, trying to recall his human terminology.
“What’s the term …” he though aloud. Nora pondered as well, her curiosity having been drawn in.
“Gods?” she guessed.
“Yes!” he exclaimed, his finger shooting forward. “She is what you would call a God, yes. Or rather, Goddess.”
Nora’s face flattened somewhat as she searched his eyes for the joke that she felt was obviously being played.
“A God,” she repeated skeptically. This time is was Xander’s face that flattened.
“Why do you keep repeating me like that? You think I’m lying to you? What reason would I have to lie?”
“Because … You have a God? Gods? That like … walk and talk?”
“We call them supreme beings,” Xander corrected.
“But like – they’re living,” Nora reiterated. Again, Xander nodded, slowly this time, sending Nora further into the deep end. “And you – like, what, pray to them?”
“What? They do not grant wishes. We are not fairy tales.”
“I mean like, worship them,” Nora rephrased.
“No,” Xander scoffed. “We acknowledge them for their greatness. Their power and existence. But they are not beings that require our worship.”
“So, what do they – what are the other two?”
“Who,” Xander corrected. “They are Mother Nature, Father Time, and Necrovidere.”
“What do they do?”
Xander chuckled, amused with the simple, yet vast questions.
“Their jobs cannot be so simply defined, Nora.”
“But like, Mother Nature … She’s like, in charge of nature isn’t she? The trees, the animals …”
“Mm,” Xander nodded, rocking his head gently from side to side. “Something along those lines.”
“And Father Time? Isn’t that like … The Sand Man?”
Xander shuddered at the mention of, what was on Athena, a horrid species.
“Be grateful he is not here to hear you speak so poorly of him. Sandmen are awful beings. And Father Time is not among them.”
“So then what –“
“Nora,” Xander interjected, raising his hand to stop her, and resisting the urge to laugh at her profound interest. He wondered if this was how he sounded to his mother and father in his youth. “Even Father Time himself could not determine the amount of time it would take to thoroughly explain each being and their existence.”
Nora’s shoulders slumped at the, however subtle, rejection of information. She sighed, her bottom lip beginning to curl in what would have been a pout.
“But … Do you talk to them? Can you like –“
Xander laughed outright, unable to help himself.
“One does not simply talk to a supreme being when one wishes. You cannot just call them over for dinner. Don’t be absurd.”
“But … Have you ever spoken to one?”
“I can’t say that I have.”
“Well do you know where they are?”
“I do not.”
Nora scoffed, throwing her hands up and letting them fall back into her lap.
“Then how do you know they’re real?”
“Because I have met their sons and daughters,” Xander supported. “And I will,” he pressed. “Learn their whereabouts, as have my parents, when I am king.”
“So … no one else knows?”
“They know of them. But their locations are limited knowledge. Only to be passed between royalties.”
“It is for the supremes’ protection. If their whereabouts were to be discovered by the wrong people, they could become endangered.” Before Nora had the chance to call out a possible contradiction, Xander raised his index finger. “They are immortal, not indestructible.”
“So why does royalty get to know?”
“So that we may call on them in a time of crisis. And only of crisis. They are never to be summoned otherwise.”
Nora nodded, staring in awe at the crash course of the beings. Her shoulders slumped again, for another reason entirely.
“Cool …” she exhaled.
Xander chuckled, nodding.
“Yeah, I suppose it is.”
Nora looked down at the palms of her hands, slowly twisting them as she stared at them, and the vines within them with new appreciation.
“Avani,” she mumbled to herself, coming back to the comforting thought that there were others out there like her. And that one of them was in fact God-like. She looked up from her hands to meet the patient eyes of Xander, smiling as she took his silence to mean that she was allowed to continue her prying.
“What are the other children?” she asked. Xander raised a silent brow at the question. “Of Mother Nature,” she added.
“Oh, well there’s Avani. Then there’s Ardea, the Mistress of Fire. There’s Mizuko, the Master of Water. Then there’s Zephyr, the Master of Wind.”
“Do they have Guardians too?”
“They do,” Xander nodded. “In fact … It was Hydra, the guardian of Mizuko that came to bring Saphora back to Athena.”
“Wow … What’s Hydra?”
“A water drakon.”
“What about the others?”
“Avani’s is a giant tortoise. Ardea’s is a tiger. And Zephyr’s is a hawk.”
“Wow … Are all animals on your planet Guardians?”
“No,” Xander chuckled. “They are their own species, though related to others.”
“Oh … Wait,” Nora said, shaking her head as a thought occurred to her. Xander tilted his head, calmly waiting for the calamity of thoughts. “Avani’s the Mistress of Earth?” she asked. Xander nodded. “So then … Isn’t that like having two Mother Natures?”
Xander smiled, surprised to have her catch such a detail.
“In theory, but Avani does not possess all the elements, as Mother does.”
“Then how is it in theory?”
“If anything were to happen to Mother, Avani would take her place.”
“But isn’t she immortal?”
“But not indestructible,” Xander reminded.
“So … What if something happens to Avani?”
“Mother will call forth a new Mistress. In essence, she will have another child.”
“What if something happened to them both?”
“Then Athena might just need a “God”.”
Nora fell silent at the sudden grief Xander expressed. Her expression fell as they made eye contact. Noticing, Xander covered with a grin, gesturing with his hands.
“Another reason their whereabouts are unknown to the masses.”
“I guess it is a good reason,” Nora nodded. “Have they ever been attacked before?”
“No,” Xander answered gratefully. “And we intend on keeping it that way.”
He scratched the back of his head before stretching his arms across the back of the sofa. He looked out through one of the windows in the living room. He caught himself yawning at the sight of the sun setting over the houses on the street. But Nora was still raring to go.
“Can I meet her?” she asked. Xander sighed.
“Who?” he asked, thinking that it was Mother Nature she was speaking of. But her answer surprised him, though not by much.
“Avani? Why Avani and not Mother Nature?”
“She’s like me,” she an
swered bluntly. “Just earth,” she added.
There was a slight pause in their conversation, before Xander melted down into a smile as he nodded. “I will arrange for you two to meet one day.” Xander stretched again, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “Now, I don’t know about your species, but mine requires sleep when the sun goes down,” Xander teased.
“What?” Nora said, her eyes widening some, taking the joke a little too seriously after the brief discussion of anomalies. “You’re not like, going to shut down, are you?”
Xander scoffed, glancing up at the clock that hung over a wall shelf, which held various framed photographs of Fran and Saphora.
“In about 38 seconds.”
“What?!” she squawked, scrambling to her knees and reaching for Xander.
Xander laughed outright, playfully swatting her hands away and standing up to showcase his heath. Nora watched him with anxious eyes, worry and fear written clear across her gullible features. He rolled his shoulders and stepped away from the sofa, stretching his arms backwards as he looked up the staircase.
“You,” he said, glancing at her with a pointed index finger. “Are fooled entirely too easily.” He pointed back up towards the stairs, making a gesture with his head. “You can sleep in Saphora’s room. I’ll take the woman’s.”
Nora frowned. Not because she had been tricked, but because he had said that they would be sleeping in separate rooms. They had spent nearly every minute together since Xander had saved her from the clutches of Richard’s wrath – Xander keeping an appreciated watchful eye, even though they had not left the comfort of the house.
And during that time, Nora had felt safe – secure. Even in the presence of the enraged and temperamental Loni. She hadn’t realized just how safe she felt until the abrupt mention of separation. Her body language and facial expression changed almost immediately, a chill running through her. She made a quick glance towards the front door, before returning to Xander’s calm violet eyes.
“But …” she whined.
Xander’s brows rose, in what was quite obviously amusement.
“What? Did you want to lay together after such a short time?” Xander chuckled, turning fully to face her again as he leaned his arm against the railing of the staircase. “I wasn’t aware that your species –“
Xander was cut off by the sudden collision of Nora’s shoe with his face. Xander flinched, throwing his arm up a moment too late, and seemingly cowering behind it as he looked at Nora with alarm, the amusement gone from his features from the sudden assault. Nora’s face, on the other hand, was burning in colour from the embarrassment of the assumption.
“I wasn’t going to say that, you pervert!” she screeched.
Xander’s arms inched down, leveling with his shoulders, his eyes still holding a certain level of uncertainty. Nora hesitated a bit, now embarrassed by her sudden fear of being left alone. Xander sighed, thinking that she wanted to keep talking about Athena, his arms dropping to his side.
“Look,” he sighed “We can keep talking tomorrow. Right now –“
“No, it’s not that, either …” Nora mumbled. Xander’s brows furrowed, looking over her body momentarily.
“What is it, then? Are you hurt? In pain?”
“What if Richard finds this house?” she finally asked after another moment of hesitant silence.
She averted her eyes to the door, almost ashamed of her paranoia. Xander paused, looking at her blatant fear, and sighed. One hand found his hip as the other raked briskly through his hair.
“You’re afraid,” he somewhat laughed. Nora frowned, her eyes snapping back to his and threatening to water from the mockery.
“It’s not funny. If he finds me, he’ll –“
“Have to go through me,” Xander finished, crossing his arms. “No one’s going to get you. And if it makes you feel any better, I’ll stay down here, and keep an eye on the door. If he does manage to break in, I’ll be here waiting.”
Nora gnawed at the inside of her lower lip at the offer. While it was true she was scared, she didn’t want to endanger Xander’s life just so that she could feel at ease. That would be doing the opposite, if anything.
“Hey,” Xander called, seeing the look of hesitation and the beginnings of guilt on her face. “I beat him before, hardly even trying. I’ll be fine.” Xander walked over to the seemingly paralyzed Nora and pushed at her back, guiding her to the staircase. “Now come on. We go to your authorities tomorrow. You need to sleep.”
“Why is she still here?” Loni asked, coming into the living room of the house with a half-eaten powdered pastry in her hand.
Xander was sitting in the middle of the sofa. Nora was to his right, staring up at her with an expression that was half distaste, and the other half shock. Xander had his elbows perched on his knees, hands folded, with his chin resting on their intersection. He stared ahead at the television that Nora had shown him how to use.
Gradually, Xander turned to look at Loni. Loni looked back and forth between them, her pastry stopping inches away from her mouth before lowering. She frowned.
Xander gestured to the television, which was broadcasting the latest in breaking news.
“The special must have been catnip yesterday at local Clemming café as an overgrown lioness decided to stop in for a treat,” one male reporter said to the camera man.
The footage then showed a shaky recording from someone’s phone of Loni entering the café, followed by the immediate departure of several customers inside. The footage then panned back to the reporter, who was standing in front of the now famous café.
“Many customers fled the scene, fearing for their lives, while others stayed to record, take pictures, and call animal control.”
The footage then switched to another shaky recording of Loni inside the café, sniffing and slowly walking about. Stopping after what seemed to be a few minutes, after she had searched the entire building, Loni came up to stand in front of the counter, where Liz and Jared stood petrified in their uniform aprons. Loni sniffed at the glass on the side of the counter, protecting the pastry treats inside.
She gently pawed at the glass, before smacking it and roaring up at the two employees. They both flinched, shuffling some before Jared hurriedly knelt down, took out a small cake from the glass and placed it on the counter. Loni stood on her hind legs, her front paws resting on either side of the counter. She sniffed at the delicacy before biting into it, picking it up, and heading towards the entrance of the café.
The footage then shook as the crowded people hurriedly tied to get out of the way. The camera then moved back to the reporter.
“Clemming zoo was contacted about the loose lioness shortly after the sighting. The owner had this to say.”
The footage then switched over to the owner of the Clemming zoo, who was standing with a grim expression. The beginning of his speech was muted as the camera switched, his hand signing feverously to compliment what he was saying.
“- Wasn’t ours. All of our animals are tagged. The exhibits have undergone a new safety regulation after the loss of our latest edition …” Old footage of dragon Arol escaping from his exhibit played while he spoke. “… and I can assure you that no other animals have escaped,” he ranted. The camera switched back to the reporter.
“Be that as it may, citizens are still skeptical that the zoo can properly contain their animals, and it’s got many people spooked.”
The camera switched to a local citizen. A Hispanic woman in her late thirties.
“I mean this is ridiculous. I can’t go out to get a cup of coffee now without worrying if I’m going to be mauled? What are they doing over there? This is crazy,” she complained.
The camera switched to Jared, still wearing his café uniform, and still sporting his pale expression.
“I … I don’t know,” he shrugged. “I’m just glad it didn’t hurt anyone.”
The reporter he
ld the microphone back to him.
“Don’t you think it was strange that it took the cake?” he asked, trying to lighten the mood. Jared gave half a laugh and another shrug of his shoulders. “Is catnip your new secret ingredient?” Jared laughed again, this time a little more whole heartedly.
“If it is, we’re definitely removing it.”
The footage then came back to the real-time shot of the reporter, who lagged slightly before speaking again.
“The lioness fled the scene when animal control came onto the property, and was lost when entering the thick of the woods just outside of town. It has yet to be captured, and an advisory is currently in effect until the lioness is found.” The reporter nodded. “This is Stanley Green, reporting for channel 17, eye-witness news. Back to you, Mike.”
Back in the living room, Loni’s face captured her astonishment and slight appall. She’s nearly dropped what was left of the cake she had taken from the café. She glanced back at Xander, whose face held both annoyance and disappointment. Her hand slowly lowered the pastry onto the back of the sofa.
“Oh,” she mumbled.
“Professor, can you tell me what happened here?” came the accent-coated voice of Officer Glover.
He and Officer Roland had been called in to investigate a crime scene. One that had happened at Clemming Community College just a few hours prior. The Professor, Professor Hughes, was still pretty shaken up. He had come in to the lab to find two of his colleagues dead, and almost all of the equipment being stolen. For whatever reason, his life was spared, and he was left to report the tragedy to the police.
“They took it all …” the Professor stammered. He looked over at the two covered bodies of his young female colleagues, his face twisting into that of despair. “She killed them. Christ, Cynthia has children,” he wept. Glover gripped his shoulder, trying to steady the man and keep him focused.
“Focus, professor. This is how you can help them now,” Glover offered. “A woman did this?”
Hughes shook his head, recalling the events that happened only a few hours ago.
“Not alone. She had Cynthia’s neck in her hand when I walked in. I caught the end of it … I watched Cynthia’s body fall to the floor beside Paula’s.”
“Did she take the equipment? Who was with her?”